The church and homosexuality [July 12, 2006 {0516}; An e-Review Florida UMNS Commentary by Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker]

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

If sexualizing same sex attraction is outside the discipline and public teaching of the church, so are other behaviors and attitudes. I think, for example, of an active and flagrant KKK member; or a person who openly promotes racial or sexual prejudice; or a person in the grips of an addiction. A time of discernment prior to membership for any of these, including a same sex couple who was intent upon disrupting the local congregation, against the public teaching and pastoral guidance of the church, might be appropriate. "Are we willing to submit to Christ, even if it means surrendering cherished practices and attitudes?" is a valid question for each of us. We need perhaps to practice church discipline more consistently across the board (as is provided in the Book of Discipline), rather than ignoring other practices and attitudes that are destructive to the spiritual well-being of individuals and the community of faith. And then, how can congregations become mature enough to "lovingly direct" ourselves and others in the community "away from practices the church believes are not consistent with the divine purpose for the sake of growth in grace"? We sometimes settle for being "loving" instead of holding one another lovingly accountable to the discipline of the church.

Stephanie Sault
Stephens City United Methodist Church

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